Agrupacion De Fuerzas Especiales Urbanas
In November of 1985 30 heavily armed terrorists (believed to have been trained by the PLO) of M-19 (Movimiento 19 de Abril, or 19th of April Movement) stormed Bogota's Palace of Justice and captured an amazing 500 hostages. Present
in this group were several members of the Council of State and Supreme Court. Unprepared Colombian military units assaulted the Palace and freed many of the hostages. However, in the hail of bullets and recoilless rifle fire, over fifty hostages had been killed. Included in the death toll were eleven members of the Supreme Court. Nearly twenty of the terrorists had been killed, but eleven soldiers had lost their lives in the process.
Agrupacion De Fuerzas Especiales Urbanas, AFEU was formed on April 8, 1985 in response to this incident. AFEU is a small unit, not more than 100 operators, that are drawn from all of the armed forces as well as from security and police forces. AFEU
is tasked with hostage rescue and VIP protection. It is organized into six fifteen-man squads each consisting of two officers and thirteen operators. AFEU is under the direct command of the Commandante de las Fuerzas Armadas.
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After passing a rigorous seven day selection phase, volunteers begin a six-month training phase in Facatativa, near of Bogota. Training focuses on hostage rescue from buildings, aircraft, buses, ships, and trains. Fast roping and rappelling skills are covered, as well as sniping, EOD ( Explosive Ordinance Disposal), and heliborne assault skills. Due to their VIP protection mission, members of AFEU are also trained in high speed and offensive driving.